Saturday 10th of June 2023

amphibians in peril...


If the current rapid extermination of animals, plants and other species really is the "sixth mass extinction", then it is the amphibian branch of the tree of life that is undergoing the most drastic pruning.

In research described as "terrifying" by an independent expert, scientists predict the future for frogs, toads, newts and salamanders is even more bleak than conservationists had realised.

Around half of amphibian species are in decline, while a third are already threatened with extinction. But scientists now predict that areas with the highest diversity of amphibian species will be under the most intense threat in the future.

And they warn that a three-pronged threat could also cause populations to decline faster than previously thought.

Like many creatures, amphibians have been hit hard by climate change and habitat loss. But they have also been decimated by the spread of the deadly fungal disease chytridiomycosis.

One in three of the world's amphibians are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's red list of endangered species. These include the Malagasy rainbow frog that lives in the rocky forests of Madagascar. It has the ability to inflate itself when under attack and can climb vertical rock faces. Found in an area smaller than 100 square kilometres, it is a prime target for the pet trade.

Pollution, global warming and habitat destruction...

It's a rare thing to witness the extinction of an entire class of animal. We weren't around to see the dinosaurs disappear, and the dodo was just one species of bird -- it's not like all birds slowly disappeared. But according to many conservation scientists, that's exactly what amphibians are facing: Frogs and others in the amphibia class are on their way out unless the conservation community takes immediate action.

The amphibia class in general -- frogs are just the most populous group of the class, which also includes salamanders and caecilians -- has actually been on the decline for some time. Pollution, global warming and habitat destruction from human development have already taken a serious toll.


The only exception could be the cane toad, an introduced species in Australia now destroying a lot of original wildlife, including other amphibians...

the careless caretakers...

Scientists working in South China have pinpointed the timing of the Earth's most dramatic extinction, an event that killed 96 per cent of all marine species, and 70 per cent of those on land.

Their findings show the so-called end-Permian mass extinction, sometimes referred to as the 'Great Dying', peaked just before 252 million years ago and took place very quickly, over a period of less than 200,000 years.

This precise timing should help scientists settle the contentious issue of what exactly stripped so much biodiversity from the face of the planet, says study author Sam Bowring, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"What we have done is to establish a very high precision temporal framework in which to have the conversation about what caused the mass extinction," Mr Bowring said.

The team's findings are published in the journal Science this week.

Other researchers have proposed several mechanisms for the extinctions, including an asteroid impact, an enormous volcanic event, or a shift in ocean circulation driven by climate change.

But so far no hypothesis has gained widespread support among scientists.


Meanwhile, let's not delude ourselves: our emissions of extra carbon dioxide and of methane, our overtaking of most nooks and crannies on this little planet, our raping of nature, is not going to help other species survive. We are careless caretakers — the mad Frankeinstein creators of a mass extinction.

tadpoles slow development in melbourne...

Developers say property prices in Melbourne's urban growth corridors may skyrocket because of an endangered frog.

A draft report released under new Federal environment laws has recommended some growth areas be off-limits to developers to protect the growling grass frog.

Developers say the plan, a national first, does not give them any certainty, but frog experts say it is a good compromise.

Melbourne's outer suburbs are growing faster than anywhere else in Australia and involves moving into territory occupied by the endangered frog.

Urban Development Institute of Australia executive director Tony De Domenico says it could add up to $10,000 per block of land.

"That's not me being alarmist, this is occurring inside what was supposed to be an urban growth boundary," he said.

"So in other words in 2002 when the Labor Party put an urban ring around Melbourne, they said anything within that ring is developable.

"Well that's been not the case because now we've got some landholders losing up to 40 per cent of their land entitlement because of one form or another of something.

uk birds in peril...

Heavy rain and flooding has had a disastrous impact on many of the RSPB's nature reserves, the charity has said.

Nests and breeding grounds have been destroyed by rising water levels, the bird protection group added.

The BBC's rural affairs correspondent Jeremy Cooke said the recent deluge of rain had come in the wake of acute water shortages.

Among the worst affected is the Ouse washes in Cambridgeshire, which is an important wetland habitat.

The reserve is used as part of a flood relief system for the Great Ouse river and the Environment Agency was forced to open sluice gates which prevented flooding upstream, but meant the nesting grounds of many wading birds were washed away.

imperilled by the doesn't care national party...

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro says he does not care "if a few frogs have got to die" if it means the state has long-term water security.

Key points: 
  • Regional centres like Tamworth, Dubbo and Bathurst are at risk at running out of water within 12 months 
  • NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the drought crisis made it the ideal time to reassess the infrastructure
  • The State Government is already investing in new pipelines


The Nationals leader said "green tape" was standing in the way of the construction of new water storage infrastructure and underground dams.

Ninety-nine per cent of the state remains in drought and as the crisis continues, it is also moving from the land to the cities.

"This is beyond the drought itself, beyond the impact from behind the farm gate," Mr Barilaro said.

"Water has now become the number one issue." 

Major regional centres like Tamworth, Dubbo and Bathurst are at risk at running out of water within 12 months, while towns including Murrurundi, Guyra and Menindee are currently having emergency water trucked in.


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Ideal solution: build some "natural" reserves of water, pump it as needed and fill them up with frogs... Goodo, hey?... Sure, the pumps need to be equipped with anti-frog suction filters...

croaking frogs...



From the ABC


Over the past few weeks, we've received a flurry of emails from concerned people who've seen sick and dead frogs across eastern Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

One person wrote:

About a month ago, I noticed the Green Tree Frogs living around our home showing signs of lethargy & ill health. I was devastated to find about 7 of them dead.

Another wrote:

We previously had a very healthy population of green tree frogs and a couple of months ago I noticed a frog that had turned brown. I then noticed more of them and have found numerous dead frogs around our property.

And another said she'd seen so many dead frogs on her daily runs she had to "seriously wonder how many more are there".

So what's going on? The short answer is: we don't really know. How many frogs have died and why is a mystery, and we're relying on people across Australia to help us solve it.

Why are frogs important?

Frogs are an integral part of healthy Australian ecosystems. While they are usually small and unseen, they're an important thread in the food web, and a kind of environmental glue that keeps ecosystems functioning. Healthy frog populations are usually a good indication of a healthy environment.


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Please note: according to "my plants", summer is likely to be torrid in Sydney, Australia...